UAC CMP Students Face Insufficient Course Availability


Courtesy of U

By Mitch Shin, News Writer

This article was originally published in print on July 22.

The University of Utah Asia Campus students who are majoring in urban ecology in the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning (CMP) are finding it difficult to register for courses while they study at the UAC.

The UAC opened the CMP in the fall of 2017 after their department of Social Work closed. There have been fewer than 25 students every semester in the UAC’s CMP since its opening. The major problem that CMP students have faced is insufficient course availability.

Most UAC students spend six semesters at the UAC and two semesters at the Salt Lake City Campus for their graduation. Studying at the SLC campus for two semesters is mandatory for UAC students, so UAC students need to fulfill most of their requirements at the UAC to graduate within eight semesters. However, at present, it is impossible for CMP students to graduate within eight regular semesters. If they want to graduate on time, they would need to spend more than two semesters at the SLC campus.

Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Urban Ecology Course Map (Courtesy of the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning)

There are 14 design foundation courses that urban ecology majors need to take, but the UAC provides only five of these courses. While the UAC provides CMP 2010 every semester — a prerequisite for students to begin upper major courses — there is only one professor teaching city and metropolitan planning courses. Students who have already taken CMP 2010 or DES 2630 are unable to take other required major courses before they can go to the SLC campus.

The maximum number of CMP credits for students who already took CMP 2010 and DES 2630 is six. ARCH 2630 and CMP 3400 are also major-required courses, but the UAC only offers these courses in the summer. In other words, CMP students need to register for a summer semester to fulfill their requirements.

CMP students are also required to take a minimum of 18 electives credits and there are 108 elective courses which allow for CMP students to meet their requirements. Only two of these courses have been provided at the UAC since Fall 2017. The UAC did open ANTH 4160 in Spring 2018, but this class hasn’t been provided to students since Fall 2018. The UAC also opened CMP 4960 for Spring 2019, but the class was an abrupt course presented over six weeks by a professor who was not an official member of the CMP in Salt Lake. As a result, three students who entered the UAC in 2017 and majored in Urban Ecology have mistakenly taken courses that did not count toward their degrees.

A former CMP student, who asked to remain anonymous, said that “it seems impossible for UAC to provide more courses — even those students need to take for their graduation” excluding CMP 2010 and DES 2630, which are the basic courses that all CMP students need to take for their upper-division requirements. “A number of faculty members of CMP and a number of students in CMP,” they added, are the main reasons why students cannot fulfill their requirements and end up taking irrelevant courses at the UAC. The UAC has only hired one faculty member for the CMP since its opening because the number of students that the CMP needs to enroll per semester to warrant additional hires, 25, has not been met. The UAC currently only has 13 students enrolled as CMP majors.

One CMP professor has to teach both CMP 2010 and DES 2630 every semester because of the CMP’s requirement. Additionally, the UAC has provided CMP 2010 every semester since Spring 2018, but only provides DES 2630 every spring semester. If there is only one professor in the CMP, and their schedule does not allow them to teach more than three courses every semester, students who took two semesters at the UAC will end up taking more elective courses than major courses.

When CMP students questioned academic advisors about their course availability, they recommended students to “take other elective courses,” even those that do not fulfill their requirements, according to another student in the CMP. “Taking other elective courses was the only solution that I’ve got from academic advisors,” they said. The Daily Utah Chronicle contacted Su Hyeon Heather Um, Academic Advisor for the communication major and urban ecology major, but she could not be reached for comment.

The UAC did provide the course CMP 5962 rather than CMP 2010 or DES 2630 in Fall 2017 when they opened the CMP and started to recruit students for the program. However, CMP 5962 was a one-credit master course which met from November 23 to 25 because the instructor was the professor of the CMP at the Salt Lake campus.

Brenda Scheer became the first and only full-time professor of the CMP at the UAC and taught CMP 2010 and DES 2630, but she went back to SLC after she finished teaching at the UAC in the spring of 2018. The UAC hired a new faculty member for the CMP after Scheer’s replacement, Mike Iversen, who has worked for the UAC from Fall 2018 to Spring 2019. With professors changing almost every year, students aren’t receiving a consistent program. Students sometimes help each other and share their information about certain courses to get good grades, but CMP students have been adjusting to new teaching methods with different rubrics every semester.

UAC Students and the professor of the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning poses after visiting a construction site in 2018 Fall in Songdo, Incheon.

Todd Kent, Chief Administrator and Dean of Faculty of the UAC, stated that he is not planning to close the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning. According to the some students of the CMP, Kent made a promise to open more CMP courses and hire more faculty members. Based on the upcoming course availability and single job opening by the UAC, however, it’s likely that these students will face ongoing difficulties in Fall 2019.

The UAC also opened the Department of Civil Engineering in spring 2019. Some students have raised questions about the difference between the Department of Civil Engineering and the Department of Urban Planning. The UAC opened the Department of Social Work in fall 2015 and closed it in fall 2017, replacing it with the CMP program. If opening the Department of Civil Engineering ultimately won’t be a replacement to the CMP, then the UAC hopefully will provide more courses for CMP students  so that they can graduate within eight semesters.

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